MP Blaine Calkins responds to article about Cuban families leaving country

I recently read an article by Ms. Treena Mielke entitled “Cuban Families Leave Rimbey and Move to United States.”

Dear Editor,

I recently read an article by Ms. Treena Mielke entitled “Cuban Families Leave Rimbey and Move to United States.”

I was very saddened not only to hear that Mrs. Sardina and her family chose to leave Canada but that a very successful business in the town of Rimbey had to close its doors in the process.

I did not become a Member of Parliament to watch businesses in Central Alberta close their doors.  As your Member of Parliament I have always advocated for policies that are good for small businesses and families. I have met members of the business community such as Ms. Conover on many occasions to listen to their concerns and ideas and to bring them back to Ottawa.

In fact, Ms. Conover attended a round table discussion last September which I hosted with my colleague Scott Armstrong, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources, in Rocky Mountain House.

It is important to note that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is exactly that.  The TFW program was created as a last and limited resort to allow employers to bring foreign workers to Canada TEMPORARILY to fill jobs for which qualified Canadians are not available.

In certain parts of Alberta the labour shortage has been more of a chronic problem than a temporary one. Notwithstanding, the changes the government introduced most recently in June 2014 were put in place to ensure that Canadians continue to have the first opportunity at available jobs.  At no time was the TFW program ever intended to be used as a path to permanent residency. There are other avenues through our immigration policies that are designed to address that need, such as the new Express Entry program which commenced January 1st of this year.

It is unfortunate that I did not have the opportunity to speak to the individuals identified in Ms. Mielke’s article.  I do not know if they were nominated for Permanent Residency under the Provincial Nominee Program nor do I know if they had looked for opportunities to extend their stay in Canada through other employment opportunities or immigration avenues.

I do not know if the outcome would have been different in this case, but perhaps had Ms. Conover contacted my office about these specific individuals a solution may have been found to keep them in Canada.

I have always maintained that as the MP for Wetaskiwin I represent the best people that Canada has to offer; we are Industrious, hardworking and determined to succeed. I will continue to do my best to reduce taxes, invest wisely and build better, stronger and safer communities to the benefit of all. My door is always open, and I remain yours in service.

Please contact my office for assistance on any federal matter.

Blaine Calkins, MP